Nursing is a demanding and often stressful profession. The effects of stress can be felt both in your personal and professional lives. For nurses, having efficient stress management techniques in place is crucial. If you want to learn everything there is to know about stress management for nurses, including why it develops, its symptoms, and tips for preventing it, continue reading. From taking breaks to practicing self-care, these tips will help you remain focused and help prevent nurse burnout.
The Stress of Nursing
Nursing is a stressful job. Every day nurses have to face the physical, mental, and emotional toll of caring for patients while simultaneously meeting the administrative demands of their role. This can lead to compassion fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and even burnout.
So, what is nurse burnout? Nurse burnout results from the level of occupational stress a nurse may experience on the job. The level of stress depends on the individual and their work environment, but there’s no denying that it can be quite challenging at times. Healthcare workers are constantly confronted with difficult decisions, unpredictable situations, and high-pressure environments. On top of all of this, you’re expected to manage your own emotions in any stressful situation while still providing quality care for your patients.1
Symptoms of Nurse Stress
Managing stress is an essential part of any nurse's job, as even a moderate amount of stress can impact both your mental and physical health. Being aware of the signs of nurse stress is the best way to mitigate it. Common signs of nurse stress include:
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Shallow breathing
Tips for Managing Nurse Stress
So, how do nurses manage stress for a more fulfilling work-life balance? The key is holistic stress management for nurses. This means taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for tackling the challenges of nursing. Working as a nurse can be extremely demanding and draining, and long shifts can make it challenging to get adequate sleep. However, it is important for nurses to prioritize getting enough sleep, as it helps to reduce the amount of stress they experience. Lack of sleep can cause you feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and an inability to focus, making it difficult to carry out your daily tasks.
Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night to give your body the rest it needs. If you can, try to avoid working back-to-back night shifts, and make sure to take regular breaks during your shift. Establishing a nighttime routine can also help you relax and unwind before bed. This could include anything from taking a warm bath to reading a book.
Although it can be difficult to make time for sleep with the demands of a nursing career, getting enough rest is crucial for managing stress. By prioritizing sleep, nurses can better manage the stresses of their job and have the energy they need to deliver quality care to their patients.
2. Eat Healthy
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is an essential part of managing stress for nurses. A healthy diet is essential to maintain your energy and improve your mood during the day. Moreover, it helps to provide the important nutrients for your body to remain fit and healthy. Being a nurse is certainly a rewarding job, but at the same time, it is also demanding. Eating healthy meals and snacks can help you stay energized and focused, while avoiding unhealthy foods and sugary snacks can help manage stress levels.
To make sure you're getting the right nutrients, try incorporating the following foods into your diet:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, and fish
Making sure to take the time to sit down and eat regular meals throughout the day can also help reduce stress, as it provides an opportunity to pause and reset before moving on to the next task. While it can be difficult to find time for meal breaks in between shifts, planning ahead and bringing healthy snacks to work can make it easier to stay nourished during a long shift. Taking care of yourself by eating well can go a long way toward reducing stress levels as a nurse.5
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and practice self-care for nurses. Being a nurse is hard work that can wear on your physical and mental well-being. To protect your health, try incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle. Exercise releases endorphins that heighten mood and lower stress levels while increasing focus.
The good news is that exercise doesn't have to be intense or time-consuming. Even going for a short walk every day can make a big difference in how you feel. If you're feeling extra stressed, you could also try yoga or meditation, which are great ways to clear your mind and relax your body. Other forms of exercise, such as running or swimming, can help you relieve stress while also giving you an energy boost.6
No matter how you choose to exercise, make sure it's something you enjoy so it won't feel like a chore. Making exercise a regular part of your life will help you manage the stress of being a nurse and ensure that you stay healthy and happy.
4. Take Breaks
It's no secret that nursing is a stressful job. In fact, many studies have found that nurses experience some of the highest levels of stress in any profession. How stressful is nursing? According to one survey, about 95% of nurses have felt burnt out over the past three years.
It's therefore very important that nurses take regular breaks throughout their shifts in order to manage their stress levels.3 Even just a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the ward can help to clear your mind and recharge your batteries. Taking a break also gives you the opportunity to reflect on how you're feeling and catch up with colleagues, which can help to reduce feelings of isolation or overwhelm.
So what kind of breaks should nurses take? Make sure you get enough rest in between shifts. Even if it's just a quick power nap, it can make all the difference when it comes to how refreshed and energized you feel for your next shift. Additionally, try to go for a walk during your lunch break, or even just step outside for a few minutes in the fresh air. This will help to clear your mind and break up the long hours of the day. Even if it's just five minutes, taking time out from the hectic environment of the hospital ward can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health.
5. Talk to Someone
No matter how hard you try to keep your stress under control, sometimes it can become too much. Talking to someone can be a great way to manage stress as a nurse. Having someone to listen to your concerns and provide support is often beneficial in relieving stress. You may want to find a counselor or a therapist who specializes in working with nurses. This can be especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t have anyone in your immediate life to talk to.
You may also benefit from talking to other nurses. This could be as simple as scheduling a weekly coffee date with another nurse or joining a local support group for nurses. Being able to vent and laugh with someone who understands exactly what you’re going through can be a huge relief.
No matter who you decide to talk to, make sure that you are comfortable with them. Talking to someone is one of the best ways to manage stress as a nurse, but only if it is a safe space for you.
6. Find a Hobby
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to find an enjoyable activity or hobby to do outside of work. Taking up a hobby is a great way for nurses to manage stress, and it can be something as simple as reading a book or watching a movie. It’s important to have something that helps take your mind off of workplace stress so that you can relax and recharge.
If you can’t think of any hobbies that you would enjoy, why not try something new? There are plenty of hobbies out there that you can explore, such as painting, photography, or cooking. No matter what you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing so that it will help reduce your stress levels.
7. Practice Meditation
Taking time for meditation is an effective approach to relaxing your mind and body to help manage stress levels. It's one of the best tools available to nurses who are looking for how to do nurses manage stress. Meditation can help with anxiety and stress reduction, managing difficult emotions, increasing focus, and creating a sense of inner peace. It’s also easy to learn and practice, so it’s perfect for busy nurses who don’t have a lot of extra time.
To start, find a peaceful spot where you can be alone. Then take a few deep breaths and start focusing on your breathing. As you inhale, notice the feeling of the air entering your lungs. As you exhale, feel the tension leaving your body. Try to clear your mind and stay focused on your breathing. If distracting thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and then let them go.
As you begin meditating regularly, you will find that the process becomes simpler and more enjoyable. Additionally, it can provide you with a greater understanding of yourself and your emotions, allowing you to effectively handle your stress in the long run.
The Importance of Stress Management For Nurses
Nursing is a highly demanding and stressful job. With the long hours, critical patient care decisions, and the constant responsibility for life-and-death outcomes, it’s no wonder why nurses have one of the highest rates of burnout and stress.
For nurses to protect their health and well-being, it is necessary for them to set aside time for self-care. While it can be difficult to make time for stress management when dealing with the demands of being a nurse, it’s essential for long-term well-being and success in the profession.
Luckily, there’s one challenge you can address immediately: The day-to-day comfort of the feet that carry you through each shift.
Snibbs has a variety of sizes and styles that will match any set of scrubs, allowing you to breeze through those long shifts. These work shoes for nurses are slip-resistant and made specifically with healthcare environments in mind, so you can confidently tackle any workplace challenge that comes your way.
So the next time you’re looking for work shoes, slip-resistant sneakers from Snibbs will be your answer.
- Well-Being Index. The Biggest Causes of Nurse Burnout and What You Can Do.https://www.mywellbeingindex.org/blog/the-biggest-causes-of-nurse-burnout-and-what-you-can-do
- WGU. Nurse Burnout: Why it Matters and How to Fight It.https://www.wgu.edu/blog/nurse-burnout-why-matters-how-to-fight-it1912.html#close
- NIH. The Effects of Fatigue and Sleepiness on Nurse Performance.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2645/
- NJSNA-ISN. Healthy Sleep.https://njsna.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/hnhn-healthy-sleep.pdf
- OJIN. Healthy Eating for Healthy Nurses.https://ojin.nursingworld.org/table-of-contents/volume-19-2014/number-3-september-2014/healthy-eating-for-healthy-nurses/
- Ohio University. Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Guide for Nurses.https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/nutrition-for-nurses/
- Zippia. Nursing Burnout Statistics.https://www.zippia.com/advice/nursing-burnout-statistics/
- ReachOut. Why Talking Helps.https://au.reachout.com/articles/why-talking-helps
- UTA. Should Nurses Meditate.https://academicpartnerships.uta.edu/articles/healthcare/should-nurses-meditate.aspx